After two decades of long and tough negotiations,India on Thursday finally got Thailand a frequented destination by some of Indias most wanted criminals to sign up on an extradition treaty that completes a legal architecture to ease processes for monitoring,arresting and deporting Indias key suspects.
Dovetailing this were two related pacts one on sharing intelligence on money laundering and the other letting sentenced persons of either nationality to complete their prison terms in their own country which were firmed up. The latter had,in fact,been signed last year but was ratified on Thursday.
These three agreements along with the existing Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty,sources said,completes the institutional and legal framework to deal with terror,terror and drug financing as well as organised crime,areas which intersect and play out quite often in Thailand. The countrys liberal tourist visa policies have made it a preferred escape destination,at times even a stopover point,for a range of criminal actors from ultras in the North-East to Mumbais underworld.
And when another country like Pakistan contests Indias claim,it turns into a diplomatic tussle like in the case of Dawood Ibrahims hitman Syed Muzakkir Mudassar Hussain,better known as Munna Zingada,as reported by The Indian Express on Thursday.
Referring to this case,Secretary (East) in the MEA,Ashok Kantha said: The Prime Minister also raised the cases in which we have sought judicial assistance to extradite criminals to India.
While mere agreements in no way guarantee arrest and extradition,sources said,they do bring into play a set of obligations which make it binding on either country to share and update lists of wanted persons,keep a lookout,apprehend when possible,and immediately pass the information. In cases like Zingada,it would ease the process of authentication as long as recognised identity documents are in place.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,after his meeting with Thai counterpart Yingluck Shinwatra,said: Our growing security cooperation received a major boost today. The extradition treaty concluded after two decades of negotiations and a memorandum on cooperation in anti-money laundering send a major signal of shared commitment to combating terrorism,organised crime,drug trafficking and counterfeiting.
Besides this,the two leaders took stock of the trilateral cooperation between India,Myanmar and Thailand a key objective for New Delhi. Thailand,which is developing the Dawei Special Economic Zone,in Southern Myanmar invited Indian firms to invest there. Kantha said the PM responded positively,saying the Dawei deep sea port will provide a shorter and viable route to Chennai and Kolkata ports.
For India,intensifying economic integration with Myanmar and Thailand holds the key to economic development of the North-East that has been hampered by poor connectivity. To this end,the three countries are already committed to building an interconnecting trilateral highway by 2016.
The two PMs,Kantha said,also directed their Commerce Ministers to take personal charge of the FTA negotiations and try to complete it by October. Both countries had firmed up a framework Free Trade Agreement in 2003 and are now aiming at a comprehensive FTA.
* Agreement on geo-spatial cooperation under which Survey of India will carry out urban mapping of a chosen town of an area of about 100 sq km
* Agreement to jointly publish an archaeological atlas,also in digital form,using high resolution satellite images to highlight spread of Buddhism from India to South East Asia
* Agreement to establish a chair for Hindi language,which will offer an undergraduate course in Indian studies,at the Thammasat University